Franklin Regional sets sights on ‘new horizon’ after section title, WPIAL playoff run

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 6:37 PM


The last week of October was a roller coaster ride of triumph and downfall for the Franklin Regional girls volleyball team.

The fourth-seeded Panthers entered the WPIAL playoffs as Section 1-AAA champions with a 14-0 section record and swept Montour on Oct. 23 and Armstrong on Oct. 28 in the first two rounds to start the week.

The week ended with the team falling to the two-time defending WPIAL champions Knoch on Oct. 30 in three sets, 25-23, 25-17, 25-18.

It was Franklin Regional’s first WPIAL semifinal appearance under seventh-year coach Mike Feorene.

After the heartbreaking defeat, Feorene took time with his team to reflect on what was a trailblazing year for the program.

“I brought my team together and we went back over our entire season and how we got there in the first place,” he said. “I reminded them that 32 teams (in Class AAA) started out the same this season and we made it down to the final four teams and that’s something the 28 other teams can’t say.”

Feorene said the difference maker between the two teams last Wednesday night was Franklin Regional’s passing game.

“It was not where it was throughout the season,” he said. “All of our hitters did not perform at their highest level, but attribute some of that to Knoch. They are a good blocking team. Whenever you make it this far, you are going to run into good blockers. Their coaching is also very good and they are disciplined.”

Junior DePaul recruit Aly Kindelberger led the Panthers against Knoch, like she did in most games this season, with 12 kills and four blocks, but it was senior Hannah Flick who has impressed Feorene the most this postseason.

“Flick has progressed and in basically two playoff games, became a tremendous player and went above and beyond the way she was playing in the regular season,” he said. “She’s had a topsy-turvy time during the season and just took off during the playoffs.”

Flick produced seven kills and three blocks against Knoch. She also had 10 kills in the first round against Montour.

Feorene has also pointed out to his players that there is still work to be done.

All four WPIAL semifinalists qualified for the PIAA state playoffs in Class AAA.

“They have set the standard for the upcoming years for Franklin Regional girls volleyball,” Feorene said. “As disheartening as it is to lose to Knoch, it’s a bittersweet situation.”

Feorene believes for his team’s success has come from playing their best game at the right time.

“Every coach hopes that their team peaks at this time of year,” he said. “To me, peak is the difference between a good team and a great team.”

Not only has the passing game reached its peak performance in Feorene’s eyes but also the defensive play and the hitting game.

“I really felt that we were coming through against Montour and Armstrong,” he said. “We have reached a new horizon.”

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